The "Teach the Controversy" Controversy

David K. DeWolf
University of St. Thomas Journal of Law & Public Policy
June 2, 2010
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This article appears in the legal journal University of St. Thomas Journal of Law & Public Policy Vol. IV(1):326-353 (Fall, 2009), published by University of St. Thomas School of Law.

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The Teach the Controversy ControversyIn 2000, my coauthors and I published an article proposing that public schools would violate no constitutional prohibition (and would improve science education) by permitting biology teachers to "teach the controversy" concerning biological evolution. This proposal generated substantial academic commentary. As this article details, members of the United States Congress and education officials in a few states have expressed some support for the idea. However, most academic commentators have accused the authors of substituting a renamed but substantially equivalent form of ―creationism‖ in an attempt to circumvent existing law. Others have accused the proponents of hijacking perfectly respectable concepts—like academic freedom or viewpoint neutrality—for disreputable purposes, such as advancing religion. This article will recount the reaction to the proposal to "teach the controversy" and will respond to the primary arguments raised against it.

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